Getting COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone aged 5 and over. They are also available to tamariki from 6 months who are at greater risk of severe illness if they were to get COVID-19. Find out when to get them, how many to get and how to get them.

What the COVID-19 vaccines protect you from

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that affects your lungs, airways, and other organs.

Tamariki and young people who have COVID-19 will commonly have no symptoms or only mild respiratory symptoms, similar to a cold. However, some people can become very sick and need to go to the hospital.

Those immunised are less likely to fall seriously ill. Find out more about COVID-19 symptoms, testing, treatment and more.

COVID-19

If you have had COVID-19

Even if you or your tamariki have had COVID-19, you should still get all your recommended COVID-19 immunisations. This reduces your risk of serious illness. It may also reduce the risk of long COVID.

You should wait 6 months after testing positive before getting any COVID-19 vaccines.

If you are at higher risk of severe illness you may be able to get another immunisation sooner than 6 months. Talk to your healthcare provider about when to get your next dose.

How many COVID-19 vaccines to get and when

COVID-19 vaccines are free in Aotearoa New Zealand. It does not matter what your visa or citizenship status is. You are not able to buy the vaccines privately.

The number of doses you need depends on your age and other clinical circumstances.

You can check when your last COVID-19 vaccine was.

My Covid Record

  • Ages 6 months to 4 years

    Tamariki aged 6 months to 4 years old can only get the paediatric Pfizer vaccine if they are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This is if they are severely immunocompromised or have complex or multiple health conditions.

    Health conditions include:

    • chronic lung disease
    • serious heart conditions such as congestive heart failure or congenital heart disease
    • diabetes
    • chronic kidney disease
    • chronic neurological or neuromuscular disease such as cerebral palsy
    • Down syndrome
    • a weakened immune system or are on an immunosuppressive treatment such as chemotherapy
    • severe haematological disorders
    • a transplant in the last 24 months.

    You can find more detailed information on the eligibility criteria on the Starship website:

    Risk factors for COVID-19 in children — Starship

    They need 3 doses of the child Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

    • The first and second dose are given 3 weeks apart.
    • The third dose is given at least 8 weeks after the second dose.

    Tamariki who have their first dose under the age of 5 will still need 3 doses — even if they turn 5 after their first or second dose.

    Tamariki aged 6 months to 4 years who do not have these health conditions have a very low likelihood of severe illness from COVID-19 infection and are therefore not eligible to have the vaccine.

    Their usual healthcare provider can give you guidance on whether they are eligible for this vaccine.

  • Ages 5 to 11

    Tamariki aged 5 to 11 years old can be protected against COVID-19 with 2 child doses of the Pfizer vaccine, at least 8 weeks apart. This can be shortened to a minimum of 3 weeks apart if needed — for example, if they are starting significant immunosuppression treatment. You will need to discuss this with their healthcare provider.

    Some severely immunocompromised tamariki may be eligible for a third child dose.

    Tamariki are not eligible for a booster. The current 2 dose course gives them good protection against severe illness from COVID-19.

  • Ages 12 to 15

    Rangatahi (young people) aged 12 to 15 are eligible for 2 doses of either the Pfizer vaccine at least 8 weeks apart, or the Novavax vaccine at least 3 weeks apart.

    Healthy tamariki under 16 years old are not eligible for boosters.

    Rangatahi aged 12 to 15 at high risk of severe illness can get a booster dose on prescription. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider about whether this is recommended and how to get a prescription.

  • Ages 16 to 29

    People aged 16 to 29 are eligible for:

    • 2 doses of either the Pfizer vaccine at least 8 weeks apart, or the Novavax vaccine at least 3 weeks apart
    • 1 booster 6 months after you last had a COVID-19 vaccine — it is recommended you wait 6 months after your last COVID-19 illness to get a booster.

    Those at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can also have an additional booster dose. This includes:

    • severely immunocompromised people
    • pregnant people
    • people who have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19
    • disabled people with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities.
  • Ages 30 and over

    Adults aged 30 and over can get:

    • 2 doses of either the Pfizer vaccine at least 8 weeks apart, or the Novavax vaccine at least 3 weeks apart
    • plus boosters at least 6 months after you last had a COVID-19 vaccine — it is recommended you wait 6 months after your last COVID-19 illness to get a booster.

    You can get additional boosters regardless of how many boosters you have already have.

COVID-19 vaccines for specific groups

The COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for all the groups listed below. Find out about COVID-19 immunisations based on your situation and how they work for you.

  • If you have an underlying health condition

    If you have certain underlying health conditions, it is recommend you get the COVID-19 vaccine.

    We encourage you to get the vaccine if you have:

    • serious respiratory disease, including chronic lung disease and severe asthma
    • a serious heart condition
    • immunocompromised conditions
    • hypertension (high blood pressure)
    • diabetes
    • chronic kidney disease
    • liver disease
    • stroke
    • cancer
    • serious mental health issues such as schizophrenia, or major depression.

    If you have a different underlying health condition and are not sure if the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for you, or if you have concerns, talk to your healthcare provider.

    If you have cancer

    If you have cancer, you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

    If you are currently receiving treatment for cancer, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine. There is no evidence that it interacts with cancer treatments. Depending on your treatment, you may be able to time your vaccine between rounds of treatment for the best immune response. You can discuss the timing of your immunisation with your doctor or specialist.

    Any side effects you experience will be similar to the general population. There is no evidence they will be worse if you have cancer.

    If you have had cancer and finished treatment, you should get the vaccine when you can. If you have any concerns, you can talk with your healthcare provider.

    If you have HIV

    If you have HIV, you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

    Clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine included people with HIV. Evidence does not show that COVID-19 has any potential side effects from the vaccine will be worse if you have HIV.

    Based on what we know about people living with HIV and their response to other vaccines:

    • you may have a weaker response to some vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine
    • if you have a suppressed viral load you are likely to gain some protection from the COVID-19 vaccine

    If you are newly diagnosed and starting HIV treatment, talk to your specialist about the timing of your immunisation.

    Any medicine you are taking for HIV, including PrEP, is not expected to change how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is. The vaccine will not affect your HIV medication.​

  • If you are immunocompromised

    If you are immunocompromised, you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

    You can get the COVID-19 vaccine when receiving medicine or therapy that affects your immune system. As with all vaccines, you may not respond as strongly as someone with a fully functioning immune system. But getting the vaccine can protect you from becoming very unwell if you get COVID-19.

    The best time to get vaccinated is before any planned immunosuppression, but do not delay any treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider or specialist about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Third primary dose

    Some people aged 5 and over who are severely immunocompromised are eligible to get a third primary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

    It should be given 8 weeks after the second dose, but may be given 4 weeks after, depending on current or planned immunosuppressive therapies.

    The eligibility criteria to get a third primary dose is complex. It only applies to people who are severely immunocompromised.

    Your healthcare provider can tell you whether you are eligible for this third primary dose. If you think you might qualify, speak with them.

  • If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy

    You can get the Pfizer vaccine at any stage of pregnancy including breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant. There is not enough data on the use of Novavax in pregnant people, so Pfizer is the preferred vaccine.

    Being vaccinated against COVID-19 means you are less likely to get seriously ill. It also helps protect your pēpi from COVID-19 while you are pregnant and after they are born.

    As well as your first 2 COVID-19 doses, pregnant people over 16 years old, can have boosters. Pregnant people who are eligible can get a booster at any stage of pregnancy or during breastfeeding.

  • If you or a whānau member is disabled

    You can talk to a trained advisor in the Healthline disability team about getting your COVID-19 vaccines. The team is made up of people who have experience of a disability themselves, or who have worked with the disabled community.

    The disability team is available Monday to Friday, from 8am to 6pm.

    Getting your vaccine

    When you get to the vaccination site, you will need to sign in. If you need an NZSL interpreter or information in an accessible format, please ask.

    When it is your time to get immunised, the staff will ask you whether it is okay to give you the vaccine. If you say yes, this is called consent. If you cannot give consent, someone who is allowed to make decisions for you can give consent for you.

    The vaccinator may also ask you questions about how you are feeling, and what medication you take.

    It is normal if you feel scared or worried. Ask the vaccinator if you have any questions.

    You will need to wait for 15 minutes after your vaccine. If this is hard for you, ask if you can wait somewhere else.

When boosters can be given

To get a COVID-19 booster vaccine:

  • you must have had at least your first 2 COVID-19 immunisations
  • it is recommended you wait at least 6 months since your last COVID-19 vaccine
  • it is recommended you wait at least 6 months if you have had a COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 boosters

Which vaccine is used

The main COVID-19 vaccine we use for primary doses in Aotearoa New Zealand is made by Pfizer-BioNTech.

Pfizer

Pfizer vaccines are used for:

  • anyone under 12
  • ages 12 and over for a primary course
  • boosters
  • pregnant people.

Novavax

The Novavax vaccine is another vaccine option that is only available for:

  • ages 12 and over for a primary course
  • ages 18 and over for a booster.

The standard gap between your primary doses of the Novavax vaccine is 3 weeks or more.

There is not enough data on Novavax to recommend it during pregnancy.

Pregnancy and immunisations

Understand the vaccines

Find out more about the vaccines approved for use in Aotearoa New Zealand and how they work to protect you.

COVID-19 vaccines in Aotearoa

Before you get immunised

Before you get immunised, there might be a few things you need to plan or discuss with either a healthcare provider or your vaccinator.

  • Timing Mpox and COVID-19 vaccines

    Mpox and COVID-19 vaccines are recommended to be at least 4 weeks apart.

    All other vaccines may be given before, after, or at the same time as any other COVID-19 vaccines.

  • If you had your first dose in another country

    If your first dose was the Pfizer vaccine

    You can have your second dose in Aotearoa New Zealand. It will need to be at least 3 weeks after your first dose.

    If your first dose was the AstraZeneca vaccine

    The AstraZeneca vaccine is no longer available in Aotearoa. You can get the Novavax or Pfizer vaccine for your second dose.

    If your first dose was a different vaccine

    At this stage, we recommend you get a dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Aotearoa.

    When booking, you will be asked if you have had 1 dose already, which vaccine it was, and the date it was received. Book My Vaccine will calculate when you are able to get a dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

    These vaccines are not interchangeable, but you are likely to have a good response to an additional single dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This is because all the vaccines target the immune response to the same part of the COVID-19 virus.

    If you have had 1 dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine, you do not need a second dose.

    Boosters

    The Pfizer vaccine is the main vaccine being used in Aotearoa for boosters, even if you had a different vaccine for your earlier doses. Novavax boosters are only available for people aged 18 or older.

  • If you have had an allergic reaction to any vaccine

    If you have had a serious or immediate allergic reaction to any vaccine or injection in the past, discuss this with your vaccinator.

    Side effects and reactions

  • If you have a history of anaphylaxis

    You should talk to your healthcare provider about which vaccine is suitable for you if you have a history of anaphylaxis:

    • to any ingredient in the Pfizer or Novavax vaccine
    • to a previous dose of the Pfizer or Novavax vaccine.
  • If you need help during your appointment

    When you book your vaccine, you will be asked if you need help during your appointment.

    Assistance includes:

    • an New Zealand sign language interpreter
    • support to make decisions
    • assistance to move around
    • a longer appointment time
    • a quiet or low-sensory environment
    • more space to move around.

    If you book online, we may need to contact you to make sure we can meet your requirements at your chosen immunisation site.

  • If you are having a CT scan, mammogram, ultrasound or MRI after your vaccine

    Let the radiographer or specialist know you have recently been immunised.

    The vaccine can occasionally cause the lymph nodes in your armpit or neck to swell for a few days. This may be seen on a mammogram, ultrasound, CT or MRI scan for up to a few weeks.

    You should not delay these appointments. If you have concerns, talk to your specialist or radiographer.

  • Giving consent for yourself or your tamariki

    Before your vaccine, you will be asked:

    • for your name, date of birth and physical address so we can verify this in the Aotearoa Immunisation Register — you do not need to show identification
    • to give your verbal consent to receive the vaccine — this is standard practice for any vaccination.

    Consent for tamariki vaccines

    A responsible adult needs to accompany the child to their appointment. This may be a parent, an adult family member, trusted family friend, legal power of attorney, or whanaungatanga carer.

    A legal guardian of the tamaiti (child) needs to give consent for them if they are under 12 years old.

    If the adult who accompanies the child to the appointment is not the child’s legal guardian either:

    • the vaccinator will need to verbally confirm by phone with a legal guardian that they consent to the child being immunised
    • the responsible adult can bring a signed copy of the COVID-19 vaccination consent form completed by a guardian.

    COVID-19 vaccination consent form

    This is standard consenting process.

    Rangatahi aged 12 and above

    While rangatahi aged 12 and above have the right to give their own consent, we recommend they discuss immunisation with their parents, whānau or a trusted support person.

    A health professional will also discuss the vaccine with them before they get immunised. They can say yes or no, or have their caregiver give consent for them. 

    If you are disabled or impaired

    When it is your time to get immunised, the staff will ask you whether it is okay to give you the vaccine. If you say yes, this is called consent. If you cannot give consent, someone who is allowed to make decisions for you can give consent for you.

Side effects and reactions

Like most medicines, vaccines can sometimes cause reactions. These are usually mild, and not everyone will get them.

Mild reactions are normal and shows that your immune system is responding to the vaccine.

Find out about common vaccine side effects or reactions and what to do if you have any.

Vaccine side effects, reactions and safety

Book your vaccine

Online or over the phone

Immunisations for individuals or groups can be booked online or over the phone. You can also change or cancel your booking online.

Find more information on booking a vaccine, or how to get specific support for your needs.

Booking an immunisation appointment

Visit your healthcare provider or pharmacy

Your local healthcare provider, hauora or pharmacy may also be offering COVID-19 imunisations. To find out, call them directly or visit the Healthpoint website.

COVID-19 immunisations — Healthpoint (external link)

If you want to book a Novavax vaccine

Browse the vaccination site map to find a location near you that can administer Novavax.

Select the filter 'Novavax ages 12+ only' under 'Vaccine type'.

Vaccination site map (external link)

Accessible immunisation centres

Some immunisation centres are fully accessible. Your family, whānau and support workers can also get their vaccine with you. Find an accesible vaccination site on Healthpoint.

COVID-19 immunisation — Healthpoint (external link)

You can talk to the disability team who have direct experience with disability. They can support you with:

  • accessibility arrangements and getting mobility assistance at different centres
  • getting your vaccine safely
  • home immunisations
  • any effects the vaccine may have on you or your medications.

The disability team is available Monday to Friday, from 8am to 6pm.

Get immunised at home

Anyone who has difficulty leaving their home safely may be able to get immunised at home.

Talk to your doctor or call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 to talk about what options will best meet your needs.

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